"Personal choice vs. retail choice" and other gems

NARAL2.jpgEarlier this month NARAL Pro-Choice Washington breathlessly reported 10% of Washington state pharmacies don't stock or refuse to dispense the morning-after pill, thereby creating a crisis.

It is irrelevant but fun to note that, according to the Abortion in Washington blog, the Washington State Pharmacy Association, although pro-MAP, promptly released a statement that it was "appalled by [NARAL's] sloppy data collection process and inaccurate conclusions... littered with errors, out-of-date information and inaccuracies." These included marking 30 pharmacies as both stocking and not stocking the MAP, etc.

But what could NARAL do about it anyway, even if the number was truly scary, say 12%? In November a district court judge enjoined a new rule that would have forced pharmacists to stock and dispense the MAP, in violation of their 1st Amendment rights.

I said all that to get to this....

Somehow the peeps at AIW got the head of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Karen Cooper, to do a triple-gotcha phone interview. Great questions (underlined). Some cuts:

Some have argued that it is hypocritical for an organization calling itself "Pro-Choice Washington" to be actively trying to coerce pharmacists, to take away their freedom to choose.

Ms. Cooper described such views as "ridiculous."

"We don't see that as a contradiction at all. There's no analogy there whatsoever. One is a personal choice, the other is a retail choice."

And...

But what interest does an abortion organization have in reducing the number of unintended pregnancies? Ms. Cooper laughed loudly (and somewhat nervously) at the question.

While hearing the question repeated, Ms. Cooper interrupted after the word 'abortion': "Listen, this isn't an abortion pill, it's a birth control pill," she asserted....

When asked if the medication works sometimes by preventing implantation of a human embryo... Ms. Cooper claimed that "nobody knows'.... "It might work that way," she admitted when pushed.

And...

AIW pressed for... why an abortion group would be so determined to prevent unplanned pregnancies... especially... a group which believes abortion should be legal through all 9 months of pregnancy, by any procedure, for any reason, at any age, without delay, at taxpayers' expense, and without apology.

This was met with a long silence, followed by a nervous confession that "abortion is a very hard thing for women emotionally... a very hard decision."...

After responding to this last question, clearly uncomfortable, she hung up.

[HT: Pharmacists for Life International]


Comments:

"After responding to this last question, clearly uncomfortable, she hung up."

Wow, that sounds just like the tactic many PCers use on this site, do they teach you this technique at pro-choice school?

Posted by: Sandy at February 26, 2008 2:28 PM


I suppose they could "choose" not to be a pharmacist if they don't like to fill prescriptions

Posted by: Hal at February 26, 2008 2:31 PM


The situations are in no way analagous.

Pharamists are paid to dispense medication. They are not paid to cast moral judgements on those who come to them for medication. If they have a problem with that, they should get new careers.

Posted by: Enigma at February 26, 2008 2:33 PM


Bobby,

Sorry I haven't been on for a while...life got kind of hectic. I've posted my reply on the "Women Political Bloggers" thread.

Posted by: Enigma at February 26, 2008 2:34 PM


Hey there friend! I'll check it out.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino at February 26, 2008 2:38 PM


I love how the interviewer keeps trying to say that she was "clearly uncomfortable" as if it had something to do with her being pro-choice....yeah, I'd be uncomfortable too if some wingnut was keeping me on the phone with stupid questions....

Posted by: Hieronymous at February 26, 2008 2:42 PM


Ms. Cooper claimed that "nobody knows'.... "It might work that way,"

It's a Magic pill! From the same place jack got his magic beanstalk beans!


This was met with a long silence, followed by a nervous confession that "abortion is a very hard thing for women emotionally... a very hard decision."...

Ya, even harder for the child being ripped to pieces.

Posted by: Ryan at February 26, 2008 2:52 PM


Hal and Enigma,

So pharmacists should get new careers? What about medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, advanced practice nurses, patient care technicians, and surgical technicians, that refuse to involve themselves in abortion. Should we get new careers as well?

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 3:06 PM


I suppose they could "choose" not to be a pharmacist if they don't like to fill prescriptions

Posted by: Hal at February 26, 2008 2:31 PM

Hal,
What do you do for a living?

Posted by: Sandy at February 26, 2008 3:07 PM


So pharmacists should get new careers? What about medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, advanced practice nurses, patient care technicians, and surgical technicians, that refuse to involve themselves in abortion. Should we get new careers as well?

Yes, they should find a career that is more in line with their beliefs. Or they should seek out an employer who does not take part in business they disapprove of, or go into business for themselves.

Should someone who's a Hindu take a job at McDonalds and then refuse to serve burgers, because it's against their beliefs?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 3:27 PM


More propaganda - more biased 'reporting' - more fabrications and inventions instead of facts

Posted by: TexasRed at February 26, 2008 3:30 PM


Ya, even harder for the child being ripped to pieces.

Posted by: Ryan at February 26, 2008 2:52 PM
***************
Could someone please explain to me how anyone, even a complete imbecile, could think the MAP has anything at all to do with 'ripping a child to pieces'?

Posted by: TexasRed at February 26, 2008 3:31 PM



I find these comments about pharmacists choosing another profession or just handing out prescriptions and not casting moral judgments degrading.
Pharmacists are not paid to just dispense prescriptions. These are highly educated men and women who go through a very rigorous and demanding training. Their knowledge is invaluable and when I want info on drugs, interactions, side effects, etc. I call the pharmacist, not the doctor.
Pharmacists shouldn't make moral judgments? So when someone shows up with a suspicious prescription for a controlled substance, the pharmacist shouldn't notify police? Certainly calling the police is making a moral judgment. When the pharmacist has concerns about the safety of a medication or if its appropriate, the pharmacist should just do what he/she is paid to do and dispense prescriptions?

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 3:38 PM


More propaganda - more biased 'reporting' - more fabrications and inventions instead of facts

Posted by: TexasRed at February 26, 2008 3:30 PM

Wow TR, we finally agree.

Per the article:
"the Washington State Pharmacy Association, although pro-MAP, promptly released a statement that it was "appalled by [NARAL's] sloppy data collection process and inaccurate conclusions... littered with errors, out-of-date information and inaccuracies." These included marking 30 pharmacies as both stocking and not stocking the MAP, etc."

These fabrications and inventions are appalling.

Posted by: Sandy at February 26, 2008 3:41 PM


Great post Mary,

There are lots of jobs where people aren't regimented into a robotic state of employment.
Target Corp. had issues with people of certain religions not wanting to bag pork products for customers in the check out lanes.

Target found other positions within their stores to accomodate their beliefs. If a woman so chooses to get MAP, 90% of pharmacies stock it, so go find another pharmacy.

Posted by: Sandy at February 26, 2008 3:46 PM


Anon, 3:29PM

I wouldn't think a Hindu or any avowed vegetarian would take a job at McDonald's and I fail to see the comparison.

Medical personnel are a must and we care for patients for a variety of reasons. I will not refuse to do anything necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. The overwhelming majority of abortions are purely elective.
If someone finds cosmetic surgery vain and sinful, then I have no qualms about them refusing to involve themselves with it.
Also, you didn't answer my question. Should all medical personnel who oppose abortion get different careers? If you say yes, then just hope you never need medical care.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 3:47 PM


When the pharmacist has concerns about the safety of a medication or if its appropriate, the pharmacist should just do what he/she is paid to do and dispense prescriptions?

Well, safety concerns are different from moral concerns, is one argument. I don't really know what the solution is, because two of my friends are pharmacists and they're definitely trained medical professionals who should certainly have the right to refuse medication if they feel the need to. But if people can refuse to fill prescriptions (or even to sell OTC medication) just because they don't like what it's for -- where you do draw the line after that? Someone who believes that AIDS is a punishment from God for being gay should be able to refuse to fill prescriptions for those medications? A Scientologist should be able to refuse all psychiatric prescriptions? etc. We train medical professionals because we need their expertise on things like interactions, side effects, etc -- not because we need them to be the moral arbiter of what medications people have access to.

Posted by: Alexandra at February 26, 2008 3:48 PM


Target found other positions within their stores to accomodate their beliefs. If a woman so chooses to get MAP, 90% of pharmacies stock it, so go find another pharmacy.

Why shouldn't Target shoppers who want pork just go and find another store? Target shouldn't stock pork if it's offensive to its staff!!!

If a pharmacist doesn't want to pass out legal medication because of moral beliefs, perhaps they should find a different position within their pharmacy where they won't come into contact with customers.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 3:50 PM


Why shouldn't Target shoppers who want pork just go and find another store? Target shouldn't stock pork if it's offensive to its staff!!!

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 3:49 PM

Because the store makes it available to it's customers and was able to relocate these people to other comparable jobs within the store. BTW, the customers they interviewed for the story were supportive of these individuals and respected their religious beliefs.

Posted by: Sandy at February 26, 2008 3:57 PM


Umm, I was being sarcastic, Sandy.

Also, you didn't answer my question. Should all medical personnel who oppose abortion get different careers? If you say yes, then just hope you never need medical care. - Mary

I did answer your question. They should not need to find different careers, they should seek out an employer who also apposes abortion and does not provide any abortive services, or go into business/practice for themselves.

Just like you say a Hindu would not take a job at a McDonalds, why would someone who was pro-life work for a company or practice that provided or supported abortive services??

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 4:10 PM


Alexandra,

Think about it from the pharmacists point of view. You said that safety issues and moral issues are two different things. But to the pharmacist refusing to dispense the morning after pill, he is looking out for the safety of an unborn child.

From a prochoice point of view this isn't an issue, but to us, it's as real as if the child were a preschooler.

Posted by: mk at February 26, 2008 4:17 PM


I know that, mk. That is why I don't think that pharmacists should be required to dispense medication they think is harmful. But I do think it's a dangerous precedent to set -- that any pharmacist can turn down any medication just because they don't like what it might possibly do -- even if you just restrict the moral refusal to issues of implantation. What other medications could plausibly thin the uterine lining or make the body otherwise unreceptive to a newly-conceived or newly-implanted embryo? It's a sticky issue, is all I'm saying. Made stickier IMO by the fact that the medication is OTC now and people can still refuse to sell it just because they don't want to. I think that's pretty creepy.

Posted by: Alexandra at February 26, 2008 4:32 PM


MK,
Why would someone who has such strong feelings about abortion/birth control/the morning after pill take a position where they would have to face this issue? I'm genuinely curious, here.

If I owned or managed a drug store or pharmacy I wouldn't want to hire someone who could potentially bring on lawsuits and bad publicity!

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 4:33 PM


Anon 4:10PM

Because in many medical facilities it may not be possible to do so. Large medical centers may perform abortions. They also provide a huge range of medical services. I trained at one. Most of the OR people, with the exception of a few, refused to perform them. Since that was not the only surgery performed, it was in fact seldom performed, and people needed jobs and the hospital had to be staffed, this was how the situation was handled. It did generate some resentment among those who felt they were "stuck" with the abortions. You can't always pick and choose what facility you'll work at. I had no option but to train there.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 4:35 PM


Alexandra,

I have yet to hear of any pharmacists refusing to dispense life saving drugs to AIDS or any other patients. Moral issues like these are faced by medical personnel as well.
Some OR people saw abortion as just another surgery. The majority of us did not.
Maybe the people who preach freedom of choice must realize this is a two way street.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 4:41 PM



We also had the option to refuse to perform tubal ligations. I know of no one, myself included, who had any moral issues with tubals or refused to do them.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 4:43 PM


Mary,

Do you work there now? Do you currently work at a facility that performs or supports abortion services?

You say that people worked there because they needed jobs and the hospital needed to be staffed. Well, couldn't that arguement be used by the poor contractors in Denver whose houses get picketed? I don't buy that argument. Training I understand, though, it's temporary and sometimes there aren't other options available.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 4:44 PM


Anon 4:44PM

Please enlighten me. Who will staff the hospital for the other services it provides such as open heart surgery, cancer treatment, emergency services, to name only a few. Hopefully you will never require the emergency or specialized services of a hospital, one that does or doesn't perform abortions, but if you do, you'll be thankful its staffed by competent people.
Also, people with homes and families may not have the option of picking up and moving.

As I said, staff was given the option to refuse to do abortions and even tubal ligations if they had moral issues with them. Most refused to be involved with abortions, no one refused to be involved with tubal ligations.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 4:55 PM


Ahh, I can tell you've been dying to make that point, haven't you Mary!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that your facility would never turn someone away who wanted an abortion. There is someone there to provide it. But you think it's A-OK for pharmacies to turn patients away and send them to other locations to fill prescriptions that are against their morals?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 5:03 PM


Anon,

No I'm saying that the pharmacist, like the medical professional, has the right to follow his/her conscience. The pharmacist may work at a facility that dispenses the morning after pill, but like myself and others who worked at a facility that performed abortions, has a right to follow his/her conscience and refuse to dispense any drug, or perform any procedure, that violates their conscience.
The store worker who for religious reasons can't handle pork may work in a grocery store that sells it. As a customer I have no issue with this and will gladly be served by another employee who can handle pork.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 5:15 PM


If more than one pharmacist is working perhaps another one who has no problem with it, can fill the prescription?

Posted by: Carla at February 26, 2008 5:32 PM


But Mary, what if that person who couldn't handle pork was the only person working, as is the case frequently at pharmacies. What if he or she told you to go to a different store to buy your pork chops, when you were already at the A&P with a basket full of other items? Would that be acceptable to you?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 5:33 PM


What about the magazine vendor on the street who refuses to sell Playboy on moral grounds? Doesn't he have a right to sell what he wants? What about the politician who won't support a bill that he doesn't believe in? Doesn't he have a choice? What about video rental stores that won't rent porn? These are all moral judgements which we have a right to make. I

Mary, I'm 100% with you on this one. Just because some people chose not to live by a moral code doesn't mean the rest of us have to do the same. It's our CHOICE, right?

Posted by: Janet at February 26, 2008 5:42 PM


Janet,
Well said. It seems that "choice" only applies to pro-aborts.

Posted by: Sandy at February 26, 2008 5:46 PM


They don't want just permission to do what they want. They want to force everybody else to participate.

Which side would they take if a clerk at the sporting goods store refused to sell guns and ammo? They'd be backing him for his "courage" and "standing up for his convictions".

This is another example of why we need to clearly divide health care practitioners into two camps, those for whom it's all "personal autonomy" and thus they'll cater to those who embrace abortifacients, abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide; and those for whom it's "First, do no harm" and who can cater to those who don't think doctors have any business causing a person's death.

Posted by: Christina at February 26, 2008 5:57 PM


Why should people who want to protect and preserve human life be BANNED from the medical profession, just because a bunch of squeaky wheels want their kids snuffed professionally?

Those who embrace death as a valid "lifestyle choice" ought to petition for the creation of a two-pronged medical profession, sorted into those who cater to death -- MAP, abortifacients, abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide -- and those who preserve life.

It's absurd to say, "Don't go into the business of perserving life if you object to occasionally killing somebody at another person's request." What next? A demand that since cops carry guns, they ought to be required to carry out "hits" for people?

Posted by: Christina at February 26, 2008 6:01 PM


Anon, 5:33PM

I guess I would just be SOL. Hopefully in a situation like this the store management
knowing they have an employee who will not handle pork, would be sensible enough to have other employees available to assist customers.
Minors cannot sell liquor. Somehow, our grocery stores know enough to have employees of legal age available to sell liquor that the underage cashier can call when a customer wants to buy liquor.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 6:14 PM


Which side would they take if a clerk at the sporting goods store refused to sell guns and ammo? They'd be backing him for his "courage" and "standing up for his convictions".

No, I would say that the person should do his job and sell the product his store stocks. Who is the "they" you're speaking about? Has this happened, to your knowledge?

Mary, when I make the point about the right to refuse ANY medication for ANY moral reason, I am speaking in theoreticals, not in documented cases. I am interested in the precedent set by certain allowances even if the situations have not yet been carried out to their illogical conclusions. Will we have pharmacists refusing to dispense Accutane next, since it is so damaging if the woman gets pregnant? etc.

Posted by: Alexandra at February 26, 2008 6:22 PM


But Mary, what if that person who couldn't handle pork was the only person working, as is the case frequently at pharmacies. What if he or she told you to go to a different store to buy your pork chops, when you were already at the A&P with a basket full of other items? Would that be acceptable to you?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 5:33 PM

The pharmacy or store would have to schedule two people so all their customers are covered. That's a problem easily solved.

Posted by: Janet at February 26, 2008 6:23 PM


oops Mary, you just said the same thing...

Posted by: Janet at February 26, 2008 6:26 PM


You say that people worked there because they needed jobs and the hospital needed to be staffed. Well, couldn't that arguement be used by the poor contractors in Denver whose houses get picketed? I don't buy that argument. Training I understand, though, it's temporary and sometimes there aren't other options available.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 4:44 PM

The contractors' jobs are a bit different than a pharmacy job. Because of the nature of their job, contractors are used to going where the work is. There is a good chance these "poor" contractors would not have been out of work even if the PP job hadn't come to Denver.

Posted by: Janet at February 26, 2008 6:38 PM


Alexandra,

I really wouldn't be concerned. I mentioned that medical people have always been permitted to follow their consciences. I have never seen this taken to the extreme of, say, a pregnant woman being allowed to die because someone had an issue with removing an ectopic pregnancy. I can't imagine where a situation like this would even be tolerated.
A pharmacist has a moral and legal obligation to warn you that certain drugs may pose a problem if you're pregnant(accutane) and do, as they have an obligation to warn you of any other possible complications. You don't have to tell the pharmacist you're pregnant.
A pharmacist can refuse to dispense drugs if he/she feels they may be dangerous for any number of reasons, if they're the wrong dosage, or if they pose any threat to the client, if they suspect abuse and/or falsification of a prescription. They can't just decide on a whim they don't like a client's lifestyle(the gay patient with AIDS) and/or refuse to dispense drugs on a whim.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 6:40 PM


The pharmacy or store would have to schedule two people so all their customers are covered. That's a problem easily solved.

This wouldn't bother me in the least. I guess I was bothered by Sandy's post up above, where she said that if the pharmacist on duty would not fill a prescription for moral reasons, the patient should "find another pharmacy." This is fine if that particular pharmacist OWNS the pharmacy and wants to make that rule, such as the magazine vendor mentioned above, but someone working for them has no right to do so when no one else is available to help the patient.

I have to wonder, though, how many pro-lifers would be comfortable working for an organization that provided abortions.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 6:59 PM


Hal and Enigma,

So pharmacists should get new careers? What about medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, advanced practice nurses, patient care technicians, and surgical technicians, that refuse to involve themselves in abortion. Should we get new careers as well?

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 3:06 PM
...........................

You are perfectly free to work within any field you choose. If you choose to be employed by a facility that provides abortions and refuse to do what you are paid to do, your employer has every right to fire you.

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2008 7:01 PM


Anon 4:10PM

Because in many medical facilities it may not be possible to do so. Large medical centers may perform abortions. They also provide a huge range of medical services. I trained at one. Most of the OR people, with the exception of a few, refused to perform them. Since that was not the only surgery performed, it was in fact seldom performed, and people needed jobs and the hospital had to be staffed, this was how the situation was handled. It did generate some resentment among those who felt they were "stuck" with the abortions. You can't always pick and choose what facility you'll work at. I had no option but to train there.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 4:35 PM
...........................

You had the option not to train at all if you felt that strongly about it.

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2008 7:03 PM


But Mary, what if that person who couldn't handle pork was the only person working, as is the case frequently at pharmacies. What if he or she told you to go to a different store to buy your pork chops, when you were already at the A&P with a basket full of other items? Would that be acceptable to you?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 26, 2008 5:33 PM

The pharmacy or store would have to schedule two people so all their customers are covered. That's a problem easily solved.

Posted by: Janet at February 26, 2008 6:23 PM
.................................................

Right. Pay two people to do the job of one. You won't see that concept catching on any time soon.

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2008 7:07 PM


What about the magazine vendor on the street who refuses to sell Playboy on moral grounds? Doesn't he have a right to sell what he wants? What about the politician who won't support a bill that he doesn't believe in? Doesn't he have a choice? What about video rental stores that won't rent porn? These are all moral judgements which we have a right to make. I

Mary, I'm 100% with you on this one. Just because some people chose not to live by a moral code doesn't mean the rest of us have to do the same. It's our CHOICE, right?

Posted by: Janet at February 26, 2008 5:42 PM
....................................

Janet, if the objectionable item isn't stocked by the employer what would be the employee's beef? The vendor down the street chooses with publications to sell. The employees are expected to sell anything stocked or find another job. Get it?

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2008 7:10 PM


The pharmacy or store would have to schedule two people so all their customers are covered. That's a problem easily solved.

Would that be an acceptable compromise? I suggested this option once when speaking with a different group of people but they didn't think it was satisfactory.

A pharmacist has a moral and legal obligation to warn you that certain drugs may pose a problem if you're pregnant(accutane) and do, as they have an obligation to warn you of any other possible complications. You don't have to tell the pharmacist you're pregnant.

Yeah, but what if you get pregnant while on Accutane? It could really mess the pregnancy up, right? Kind of like how, if an egg has been fertilized, Plan B could at best possibly prevent implantation. So the fact of you being pregnant or not at the time of the filling of the Accutane prescription would be irrelevant, because if a woman does get pregnant on it, it could have disastrous effects? etc.

Posted by: Alexandra at February 26, 2008 7:22 PM


Sally 7:01PM

How many ways can I say this? Hospitals have to be staffed. They provide various services. These services are provided by people who never have to involve themselves in abortion. Hospital employees have the legal right to refuse to involve themselves in procedures that go against their consciences. Live with it.

Sally, 7:03PM

Students and employees had the right to refuse to involve themselves with abortion. Most refused. It wasn't a problem or an issue. You were simply reassigned, as were employees. We had the same option with tubal ligations. No one refused to do them.

Sally, 7:07PM

If the pharmacist has made his/her feelings known, and the employer accepts this, then they may need to schedule more than one employee. Its no different than the underage cashier who needs an employee of legal age to sell liquor on hand.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 7:33 PM


Alexandra, 7:22PM

Accutane is not a life saving medication. Why would any woman take any risk at all with her unborn baby? Why would any doctor in his/her right mind even prescribe this for a pregnant patient? I can't imagine that a doctor wouldn't want a pregnancy test first. The doctor and pharmacist would both have an obligation to advise a client of the risk. The doctor might actually be legally liable for prescribing it to a pregnant woman and I'm sure would have every right to refuse to do so. I would think the pharmacist could refuse to dispense it to a patient who may be or is pregnant.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 7:40 PM


Mary --

I think you're missing my point. I'm pretty sure that women are required to be on birth control in order to be prescribed Accutane, so I don't think any doctor would prescribe it to a pregnant woman. My point is, what if a woman gets pregnant after already having been prescribed -- and having consistently taken -- Accutane? It would mess that pregnancy up pretty badly, at least consistently enough that it comes with all sorts of warnings. It would probably be far more likely to mess up a pregnancy than Plan B is to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting -- and yet pharmacists will deny women Plan B because there is that chance. Why not deny women Accutane as well?

Posted by: Alexandra at February 26, 2008 7:51 PM


If the pharmacist has made his/her feelings known, and the employer accepts this, then they may need to schedule more than one employee. Its no different than the underage cashier who needs an employee of legal age to sell liquor on hand.

I do agree with this. Now that Plan B is OTC, are pharmacy techs allowed to sell it? That could make the whole matter easier.

Posted by: Alexandra at February 26, 2008 7:52 PM


Alexandra,

I would hope the doctor would immediately discontinue the prescription. I would also hope the woman, advised of the risks, would carefully monitor her periods and pregnancy symptoms. I don't know how the pharmacist could know the woman is pregnant unless she says something. If she does, I would think the pharmacist would have a right to refuse to dispense the accutane. As I said, this is not a life saving drug.
If sold OTC it seems any cashier could sell it. Its like aspirin or cough syrup. A pharmacy tech need not sell it.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 8:12 PM


Sally 7:01PM

How many ways can I say this? Hospitals have to be staffed. They provide various services. These services are provided by people who never have to involve themselves in abortion. Hospital employees have the legal right to refuse to involve themselves in procedures that go against their consciences. Live with it.

Sally, 7:03PM

Students and employees had the right to refuse to involve themselves with abortion. Most refused. It wasn't a problem or an issue. You were simply reassigned, as were employees. We had the same option with tubal ligations. No one refused to do them.

Sally, 7:07PM

If the pharmacist has made his/her feelings known, and the employer accepts this, then they may need to schedule more than one employee. Its no different than the underage cashier who needs an employee of legal age to sell liquor on hand.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 7:33 PM
.....................................................

There is quite a difference. There is no correlation between an employee forbidden by law to sell a product and an employee that chooses not to sell a product for personal reasons. If I owned a liquor store and an employee chose to refuse to sell a particular brand of liquor, it would be wise of me to fire that employee. Obviously, no one would hire an employee that was forbidden by law to perform their job function. What fool would hire another employee in addition to the finicky/illegal one? Bad bad business practice. What's next? Witches use brooms so my religion doesn't allow me to touch them? The God of my religion requires me to file my nails at specified times, 10 times a day?

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2008 8:24 PM


Sally, 8:24PM

I'm afraid I miss the point of your post.

Posted by: Mary at February 26, 2008 9:34 PM


Sally, I understand your post, and agree.

Posted by: Hal at February 26, 2008 10:32 PM


Sally 7:10,

What fool would hire another employee in addition to the finicky/illegal one? Bad bad business practice. What's next? Witches use brooms so my religion doesn't allow me to touch them? The God of my religion requires me to file my nails at specified times, 10 times a day?

Posted by: Sally at February 26, 2008 8:24 PM

If hiring someone else allows the business to run more smoothly, it's not such a foolish decision. It's part of the cost of doing business.

Posted by: Janet at February 27, 2008 9:17 AM


Janet 9:17am

Good point. If a store has a large Jewish/Muslim customer base who have a religious issue with pork, hiring a person with similar religious convictions, respecting those convictions, and having him/her available to assist this customer base may go a long way toward maintaining and improving business.
Businesses do this all the time. At the hospital I work at every effort is made to respect cultural and religious traditions, and it ain't always easy! Its crucial to maintain good relations with the community served if you want to stay in business and may require certain concessions.

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 9:32 AM


Janet,

The population served at our hospital includes, Amish, Mennonite, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Orthodox, traditional religions, black, white, Native American, hispanic, Laotian, East European immigrants, young, old, poor, middle class, rich, and everything else in between!

Now, you understand what I mean when I say concessions "ain't always easy" but every effort is made.

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 9:46 AM


Mary,

"Should all medical personnel who oppose abortion get different careers? If you say yes, then just hope you never need medical care."

This is not a valid comparison. Medical personnel specialize in particular areas; this is just how medicine works. So in asking this question, really you are asking if all medical personnel who do not deal with every medical issue should be forced to get new careers.

Whether or not you find it degrading is irrelevant. Pharamists dispense medication; they are highly trained professionals and are intelligent people, but this does not change their job description.

Your comparison to illegal drug use is also invalid; illicit drug use is illegal, neither the morning-after pill nor birth control all. Pharamists should not be able to impose their own personal moral beliefs on others.

Posted by: Enigma at February 27, 2008 10:29 AM


Enigma,

I beg to differ. Medical personnel, especially those who work in surgery, may very well be confronted with an abortion situation. Surgical techs are limited pretty much to surgery, as are anesthesia providers. Nurses specialize in and prefer surgery. If these people have serious objections to performing abortions, should they seek out other professions?

Imposing personal beliefs works in both directions. If a pharmacist has made his/her beliefs known to their employer then the employer can either hire another person or ask the pharmacist to leave. If the pharmacist feels that strongly, he/she can seek employment elsewhere.

If the morning after pill is sold OTC, its a non-issue where the pharmacist is concerned.

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 10:45 AM


Mary,

I guess I'm just confused as to where you stand. You feel it's ok for a pro-life person to work where abortions are performed because they need the job and the hospital needs to be staffed, correct? But they should have the right to refuse to do this part of the job and let their co-workers pick up the slack?

You feel it's fine for a pharmacist to refuse to administer a perscribed, legal medication to a patient if it's against their moral beliefs? And it's up to the business owner to make arrangements for another person to be on staff who is willing to do so? Or the patient should have to find another pharmacy altogether? But in your most recent post you state that the employer can let them go or they can seek employment elsewhere, where they won't have to administer meds they find morally offensive?

You've got me confused!

Posted by: Anonymous at February 27, 2008 11:09 AM


If you don't mind my responding, the way I see this is it's not as big an issue as some people want to make it out to be. As Mary points out, there are many different solutions to this problem. Every case is as different as the parties involved and as long as individual employers/managers can work things out with their employees, why should we have to regulate this issue on a national level?

I think this issue is easier to understand if you've ever owned your own business and/or hired your own employees. You know that there's a give and take on both sides.

Posted by: Janet at February 27, 2008 11:24 AM


Anon,

There are hospitals that perform abortions. Employees have the option to refuse to be involved with them. If others have to pick up the slack, so be it. I have to pick up the slack when a pregnant employee can't be around x-rays, when someone is home sick, or is on leave for a family member illness, or is just too lazy to do something themselves.
By the way Anon, a hospital employee has the right to refuse to work in an area they do not feel qualified to work in. For instance, I could refuse to "help out" in labor and delivery or the cardiac catheter unit since I have absolutely no experience in these areas.
A Catholic hospital will be unlikely to perform tubal ligations or elective abortions. They employ people who have no moral qualms about either procedure. They also employ people who do not practice the Catholic faith or are atheists. Is this any different or confusing?

The employer has the option to say he/she cannot afford another person. The employer may not see it as a problem or he/she may see it as promoting business and good community relations to accomodate this person's beliefs. Either way, if the employee has made his/her reservations known and its not possible for the employer to accomodate them, then the employee has the option to seek employment elsewhere and the employer has the option to tell them they must do so.

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 11:32 AM


Janet, 11:24am

Very well summed up.

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 11:43 AM


Mary,

When I offered some of the same suggestions you just mentioned in your last post ("then the employee has the option to seek employment elsewhere and the employer has the option to tell them they must do so.") you told me you hoped I never needed medical care!!!???

Posted by: Anonymous at February 27, 2008 11:46 AM


Mary,

Thanks. Ditto.

Posted by: Janet at February 27, 2008 11:47 AM


Anon,

No I said that hospitals employ people in various specialized areas, i.e. ER, ICU, OB, who will have no involvement with abortion and as such whether they oppose or support abortion will be irrelevant to their employment. Hospitals may perform abortions but they also provide other services such as those I mentioned. Its impossible for them to hire only people who support abortion, just as its impossible for Catholic hospitals to hire only Catholics.
If they hired only people who support or would perform abortions, they may have a very acute shortage of people to staff all areas of the hospital. If that were the situation, then just hope you would never need emergency care or other specialized services since there would unlikely be enough people to staff these services.

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 12:07 PM


Those who advocate the compulsion of pharmacists to dispense lifestyle medications which they find morally repugnant are being intentionally obtuse. Science says that life begins when the sperm and egg join. Ergo, if a pharmacist has a moral objection to ending that human life, it should be respected. The statement that this is a 'retail choice' and not a 'personal choice' is also offensive on its face. What could be more personal than a sincerely held religious belief, not an imaginary strawman belief manufactured to obuscate the real moral issue?

Please.

Posted by: Stewart Steen at February 27, 2008 1:16 PM


Stewart Steen,

Very well said. If a local grocery store doesn't sell Kosher products, then it will be necessary to find a Kosher butcher or store. If I want to buy pork and liquor I don't go to a Muslim grocer. If I want to buy meat, I don't go to the Hindu grocer. The devoutly Christian book and magazine store owner may not sell certain books and magazines. Certain stores and businesses may be closed for religious observances that has no significance to me.
All of this might cause me a lot of inconvenience. Yet would anyone argue that any of these business people are not fully within their rights to observe and practice their religious beliefs however much it may inconvenience any of us?

Why should pharmacists and medical personnel be forced to go against their own deeply held religious convictions?

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 2:47 PM


Why should pharmacists and medical personnel be forced to go against their own deeply held religious convictions?

All your arguments hold true, Mary, but what if a patient goes to, say, Walgreens to pick up the morning after pill (although they no longer need a prescription, they are still held behind the pharmacy). Even though Walgreens stocks this pill, the particular pharmacist on duty refuses to hand it over because it's against their beliefs. The patient is told to find another pharmacy. Do you believe this is right? Keep in mind that this pharmacist does not OWN the Walgreens pharmacy, they just work there.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 27, 2008 5:27 PM


Anon,

I think in all fairness to all concerned that pharmacist should inform his/her employer ahead of time and arrangements made for either another pharmacist or a pharmacy tech to dispense the drug, or put the item on the counter for a customer to take on her own. If its OTC a pharmacist need not be involved and I would think any clerk in the store could retrieve the drug for her, just as a clerk can hand you a bottle of aspirin or cough syrup.
If arrangements cannot be made the pharmacist is free to seek employment elsewhere or his/her employer ask that they do so.

Posted by: Mary at February 27, 2008 5:49 PM


That's fine, as long as we agree that legal drugs should be made available to patients without interference from a pharmacist's personal beliefs!

Posted by: Anonymous at February 27, 2008 9:10 PM


Anon,

I would agree that the pharmacist has the right to act on his/her personal religious beliefs. If the pharmacist is running his/her own business, then, like the Muslim or Hindu grocer, has a right to determine what will or will not be sold.
If the pharmacist is employed by a business, then he/she has an obligation to inform the employer of certain religious convictions and how they might affect customer service. Its then up to the employer to decide to either make accomodations or ask the pharmacist to seek employment elsewhere.

Posted by: Mary at February 28, 2008 12:20 AM